As I write this column, I find myself continually stopping to delete gibberish that finds its way onto my computer screen: hel$$$x///33. This is not due to incorrigible fingers, but rather to the frenetic dance of a 10-week-old squirrel across my keyboard. Meet Gracie. An Eastern Gray squirrel. I found her and a brother nearly two months ago on my favorite biking trail, elfish and with eyes still unopened. They had apparently fallen from their nest and a murder of crows were amassing overhead for what I could only assume was to be a squirrel smorgasbord. So home they came—crows able to locate roadkill elsewhere.
I had assumed it would be a short-lived relationship, perhaps a week of warmth and nourishment and then set outside into the trees of the McPonderosa (my six acres of pacific northwest paradise in forested wetlands). But in this case, that’s not the way nature works. Unfortunately, the runt of the litter, Carlyle could not maintain his body heat and he passed within the first week. Sad, especially now that his sister, Gracie, would have to be raised solo, not the preferred method of squirrel raising—they do best with siblings in this maturation process and thereafter.
Based upon my internet research, I quickly came to realize that Gracie would be living with us for far more than a week. This included feedings by dropper of formula five to six times a day. A heating pad to help her maintain body temperature. And then moving from the small (and free) Amazon® box to a squirrel cage I spent a day building, some four feet by three feet with chicken wiring, a nearly $200 expenditure. I had soon outspent what I had invested on my first son’s early years. For a squirrel!
It subsequently came to my attention that since Gracie hasn’t been able to forage and store food for the winter, that I would become her local Costco (you need boxes today?). Her cage will be moved outside in about a month to my workout deck (covered fortunately) and we will leave the door open and provide her nourishment for the winter. At the same time, a 2 x 4 will extend from her cage to a nearby pine tree where I am installing a squirrel house, so she can travel easily between the two.
But it isn’t just me who is entwined with this rodent, which after studying her features and eating habits, I soon realized was but a few DNA strands removed from a mouse or a rat. My wife also became infatuated with this lovable creature that continually bites the hands that feed her. Not satisfied with the limited roaming within her cage, now Gracie joins me at my computer and desk, as I work from home. With more energy than a Duracell, she scampers across my files, keyboard, stapler and anything else in her path. She loves the taste of manila folders and considers all hard surfaces to be a toilet. It is our hope she will take to her squirrel house, and since my wife and I are imprinted on her brain as her food friends, that she will continue to trust us, taking refuge in our embrace, visiting us on occasion, returning to her human roots.
We also have three loving dogs (two shepherds and a golden doodle) here on the McPonderosa and we have been fanatical about keeping the canines away from Gracie, not allowing her to grow safe with them. Since this property is abundant with coyotes, I don’t want her to assume that any four-legged furries are her friends.
So how does all this pertain to MicrocynAH®? Not certain it does, though it does relate to our global need to treat all animals with respect and love, even those wild ones that might take a bite from one of our appendages: squirrels, bear, elk, deer, elephants, whales and others. Because at the end of the day, it’s a group lease. When those animals are gone, so are we.
And of course, should Gracie present with a wound, MicrocynAH is safe to use on even the smallest of our forestland creatures with no toxicity or stinging. I’ll let you know how it’s going once we release her into the wilds in mid-October.